NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG has partnered with digital health company Healthera, to provide mobile-based repeat prescription ordering and tracking for over 140,000 patients registered with 22 GP surgeries in the area.
As of October 1, patients will be able to order their prescription from their GP and collect it from over 60 participating pharmacies – both multiple and independent branches in the area. Pharmacies will have full visibility of the prescriptions ordering process, and be able to communicate with patients via a two-way messaging service on the app, the CCG told C+D last month.
The NHS-approved app will use the CCG's 'prescription ordering direct' service to allow patients to “request and receive regular prescription medicine without the need to visit their GP surgery each time they need it”, according to the CCG's website. It will also allow patients to book in for flu vaccinations and medication reviews, the CCG told C+D.
Mike Keen, CEO of Kent LPC, said he wrote to pharmacies in the area about the app, as “the CCG decided to do this unilaterally – the decision was not taken in conjunction with the LPC”.
The nature of the app means that prescriptions are ordered directly from a GP surgery or via an online pharmacy model, he claimed, “which takes prescriptions away from pharmacies”.
“It’s a commercial decision and I’m not going to advise pharmacies one way or the other,” Mr Keen added.
However, “it is important that pharmacies look at the marketplace and see what’s on offer. This app is one of a number”.
In response, the CCG said it did not consult with the LPC as its partnership with Healthera is “an addition” to its existing ordering service, and it “didn't feel it was necessary”.
“Empowering” community pharmacy
Healthera said the move would “empower” community pharmacies to play a more active role in patient healthcare, while also reducing workload.
Quintus Liu, CEO of Healthera, claimed the app helps pharmacies “streamline their workflow”, and said he is “confident the service will quickly demonstrate further reductions in medicines wastage while increasing patient satisfaction”.
Once patients are switched to the app they will have the choice to collect their prescription from any listed pharmacy – including their existing pharmacy. However, once the CCG has completed the migration, a patient's “previous arrangement for managed repeat [prescriptions] will no longer be accepted”, Mr Liu told C+D.
Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said the app will also “remind patients exactly when to take their medication, reducing the risks and associated problems of medication non-compliance”.
“The biggest cost of the [prescription ordering] service is staff wages,” Luke Tate, prescription ordering direct manager at the CCG told C+D.
“By using innovative technology such as Healthera, we can improve the efficiencies of our service, allowing us to open up the service to more practices and patients in our CCG.”